“It is ten minutes before ten, and normally I’d be stalking out a chair for Group. That’s the kind of thing you worry about in an institution like Life House. I guess that’s good, in a way. The challenge of Group is to find a chair as far away from Old Doctor as possible without sitting too close to Big Stink, otherwise secretly known as BS. BS is Ben, and hes the only boy on Life House D, which is specifically for cutters and suicides , and he smells like urine baked at three-fifty for forty minutes.”
Jane is in Life house following an ‘incident’ which she still isn’t sure she meant to happen or not. All she knows is that she is depressed, as was her father and his mother and one of her parents… depression runs in the family and Jane suffers from it badly. She has spent the last year in Life House, but since a dream 6 months ago she has a plan, she has collected her points and earned herself a trip home, but she plans on never getting there. When she boards the plane and it starts moving she goes to the bathroom to take a selection of pills, but then the plane judders, the pills are lost and Jane’s world goes black.
Awaking in a wreckage Jane can see there’s only her and one boy still alive, and now she is fighting to stay that way.
I thought this sounded pretty impressive when it unexpectedly landed on my doorstep. The idea of a plane wreck and fighting for your life when you’ve just actually tried to take it from yourself was really intriguing so I started it as soon as I could. Just a meagre three hours later I finished and I was blown away.
The story isn’t just about suicide and depression, its about caring for those you love, its about people taking things away from you and trying to get those back, its about mental health in general but also how crazy other people can seem when you’re the one institutionalised. Jane is aware that this overwhelming urge to kill herself cannot be stamped out and therefore she plans for it, she’s a planner and that makes her freak when she wakes up in the plane wreck. As soon as that happens the book drastically changes to be about survival instead of suicide and I loved it. The survival instincts that kick in for Jane are the same as those which would for any other person and it showed that Jane can beat her illness, she can save herself, especially with the help of Paul.
Now Paul, there’s a bit of insta-love going on in this book which usually I hate. However in Paul I can understand it, he’s cute and funny and lets face it, you’re probably gunna fall for any guy like that when he’s trying to help you stay alive and get off a mountain. Their relationship was interesting because they hardly knew one another but they were thrust together and they fit nicely together. I liked that Paul had his own crazy to get on with too because it seemed less strange for Jane.
Honestly I thought the mental health aspect of the book was handled pretty well but only if you are familiar with depression and what it can do to someone. I read a negative review of Survive which claimed Jane wanted to kill herself only because her father and other relatives did, that is not the case at all but it may seem that way if you are not familiar with the disorder. I thought the first half of survive covered it very well and once the survival instinct kicked in that was overtaken, but it was interesting how it still was apparent sometimes with the italicised writing.
The story takes the two characters on an adventure and honestly, its a pretty heart-wrenching one. Both of them are in severe danger and they could die at any point. I was holding my breath and muttering ‘please don’t die’ at more than a few points and even squealed in one place! As I said I read the book in one sitting over about three hours, with a coffee making break here and there so its not a slow read, I was hooked in and I couldn’t put Survive down because the premise worked so well. With a brilliant story line, interesting characters and the ability to make you squint in anticipation I would highly recommend Survive to many readers.
Survive will be published on February 4th by Electric Monkey, an Egmont imprint. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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